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This review is taken from PN Review 235, Volume 43 Number 5, May - June 2017.

Cover of Coming in to Land: Selected Poems 1975–2015
Kevin J. GardnerAmerican Motion Andrew Motion, Coming in to Land: Selected Poems 1975–2015
HarperCollins, 2016

After six ‘suffocating’ post-laureate years (Anita Singh, The Telegraph 15 May 2015), Andrew Motion decamped for America in 2015 to teach at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. I had the pleasure of hosting him for a poetry reading at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, last September, and it was clear from his reading and our conversations that the borders of his imagination have expanded since his retirement from the laureateship. Though still drawn to elegiac meditations and narratives of vicarious interiority, he has of late been submerged in perspectives of historic and contemporary warfare, and his current work finds inspiration well beyond the spatial and temporal boundaries of a shrinking England. Animated by the possibilities of fresh challenges, Motion has stated his desire ‘to open myself up to the great, strange Niagara roar of American poetry’ (Bret McCabe, The Hub, 11 January 2016). His latest collection – his first to be taken up by a mainstream American publisher – is in many regards the work of an American poet in the making.

Coming in to Land, whose title glances at Motion’s own flight to the US, does not survey the poet’s forty years’ work in balance but instead draws mostly on the last eight or so years. The book’s opening section gathers fourteen poems written between 1975 and 2008, including some now classic pieces – ’Anne Frank Huis’, ‘Serenade’, ‘The Fox Provides for Himself’, ‘The Balcony’, ‘A Dutch Interior’, and ‘The Mower’ – while the rest of the book comprises ...

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